COX-2 Inhibitors

Scleroderma is a rare disease caused by the immune system targeting and damaging healthy connective tissue, an important structural component of organs, bones, and skin. This leads to inflammation, causing damage and swelling, and fibrosis (scarring) because of an overproduction of collagen.

Scleroderma can cause a range of symptoms, and while there is no cure, many therapies are available to manage both this condition and those related to it.

COX-2 inhibitors are a type of anti-inflammatory agent that may be prescribed to treat disease symptoms, such as the joint and tendon pain experienced by scleroderma patients.

What are COX-2 inhibitors?

COX-2 inhibitors are a subset of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that act specifically on the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2).

As part of the immune response to infections or injury, COX-2 facilitates the release of prostaglandins (synthesized from a substance called arachidonic acid). Prostaglandins play a key role in triggering inflammation.

Chronic inflammation can be a source of pain and can lead to permanent damage in scleroderma. By blocking the production of prostaglandin, COX-2 inhibitors work to reduce the level of inflammation and complications associated with it. In scleroderma patients, these inhibitors can help to reduce the swelling, stiffness, and pain that inflammation causes in the joints.

Types of COX-2 inhibitor

There are several types of COX-2 inhibitors available, like Celebrex (celecoxib), the one most commonly used to treat scleroderma.

Another such medication, Vioxx (rofecoxib), was voluntarily recalled in the mid-2000s due to safety concerns and is no longer available by its brand name, although generic versions may be in use. Bextra (valdecoxib), also a COX-2 inhibitor, was voluntarily recalled from the U.S. market in 2005 for safety concerns; it may be available elsewhere.

Other information

As COX-2 inhibitors may reduce the effectiveness of ACE inhibitors, a common therapy used for kidney disorders in scleroderma, it is important to consult a doctor before starting this therapy.

Common side effects of COX-2 inhibitors include headaches, edema (swelling), and rashes. COX-2 inhibitors may also increase the chance of stroke or heart attack.

COX-2 inhibitors may be preferred over common NSAIDs, as they may cause fewer side effects. Traditional NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, block another enzyme, called COX-1, alongside COX-2. COX-1 plays a role in the stomach, so NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea and stomach ache.


Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website